Wichita Christian Head Coach Kyle Davenport says it best: "Everybody who's around TAPPS Division Two, Six-Man football knows that our district is tough."
This year's TAPPS District 2, Six-Man Division II is half the size of last year's District One.
But of the four teams playing football, three are in the state's top five, according to SixManFootball.com.
#5 Notre Dame joins #4 Brownwood Victory Life and the newly-renamed #3 Granbury North Central Texas Academy as favorites.
"Our district is going to be the biggest challenge," said Notre Dame senior quarterback Danny Otto. "Granbury and Brownwood, they both have hard-hitting offenses. Granbury especially is really quick."
Notre Dame and Wichita Christian sit at opposite extremes this year:
Notre Dame coach Don Carlson will lead sixteen players into their season-opener September 7th in Bryson. Wichita Christian had just nine players on the sideline when they opened up Thursday night in Knox City.
Notre Dame is coming off a state semifinalist finish, and a trendy pick to win the TAPPS Division II state title. Wichita Christian's own coach admits a playoff spot will be a challenge.
But both sides will use what they have to their advantage.
Coach Davenport says the small roster could bring everyone closer together.
"In a sense it's good because everybody knows that they're important," Davenport said. "Everybody knows that they're going to bring something to the team."
For the Stars, the burden falls on the two seniors: quarterback Brent Holsberry and Receiver Matt Steigerwald.
"I honestly think Brent could probably be one of the best quarterbacks in our district," Steigerwald said. "He's a four-year starter, he's returning again for his senior year, he can really throw the ball, and he's pretty accurate."
"We're going to spread it out," said Holsberry. "We don't have a lot of size, so we're gonna use what speed we've got and just go with it."
Notre Dame plans to use their depth, with six starters with varsity experience including Wichita Christian transfer senior Hunter Wolfe, to avoid over-working their best two-way players.
"What we're planning to do is run Cody [McElroy], play him a bunch on offense and defense, Coach Carlson said. "But when he gets tired, we've got two or three guys that can go in there and fill in for him and do a very adequate job."
As a junior last year, McElroy led all Texoma six-man players with over 2,000 yards rushing, and led all of Texoma with 46 touchdowns on the ground.
On top of that, he caught nine touchdown passes, returned several more kicks for scores, and recorded an area-high seven fumble recoveries.
It's certainly helpful to his quarterback. "The running of Cody McElroy, that's really great to have," Otto said.
Knights tight end Cobi Niedzwiecki talked about what makes McElroy so effective. "He's quick, he's smart, he can read the blockers really well, that's the main part," Niedzwiecki said. "He watches us [his blockers] and then he can tell where to go."
Wichita Christian is off to a great start this season, with a 47-0 win over Patton Springs in their opener Tuesday night.
The Knights the first and last games on their schedule to cancellations, and so will play just an eight-game schedule. In an odd twist of scheduling, all three district games for the Knights are at home.
Notre Dame Varsity Football Schedule
Sept. 7 at Bryson
Sept. 14 at Chillicothe
Sept. 21 at Harrold
Sept. 28 BYE
Oct. 5 vs Vernon Northside
Oct. 12 vs Granbury North Central Texas Academy*
Oct. 19 vs Saint Jo
Oct. 26 vs Brownwood Victory Life*
Nov. 2 vs Wichita Christian*
Wichita Christian Varsity Football Schedule